When I speak to Patrick Wolf, he’s just got in to his hotel room late at night after a show in Norwich. The man is pretty pumped-up and energetic, if a little bit scattered. True to form, Patrick begins by telling me about the castles in Norwich.
“We’re touring around the UK right now and we’ve just finished a day in Norwich, it was fantastic. There’s a lot of amazing people in Norwich. We’ve seen the castle, explored all these medieval artifacts and…yeah. It’s been a very good day today.”
But quickly things get out of hand. Over the crackling line, I can hear sounds of chaos, shouting, and other horrifying noises. “Oh, my boyfriend…I had a chicken…” he begins to explain. “Can I just tell you this?” he asks and then continues. “This is what happens after midnight with my band. I had a chicken that I was going to eat, I eat it after a show because I’m hungry, and my boyfriend just threw the chicken in the street. How would that make you feel?”
I am not sure. Sad, I volunteer, and ask if he’s still hungry. “I’m sitting here, and he’s gone off in a strop. I’m very hungry,” he complains. “There’s no food right now. I’m going to starve to death, you know. If I die tomorrow, it’ll be my boyfriend’s fault. I have no food.”
Although it’s sad to hear about the waste of a good chicken, it’s nice to know that Mr Wolf has settled down with a nice boy. His previous records have been so fraught with heartache and troubles. It’s been said that since he met this nice man, things have really turned for the better.
One of the other bigger changes in his career is the decision to leave Universal Records, who put out his last release, The Magic Position. “Well, it was a mutual decision,” he says. “I mean, I’m an extremist, and they’re conservatives; it’s just not going to work. I want to change the world; they just want to stay boring and just keep on making money out of people. I want to keep on changing things and they just don’t even want to bother thinking about being creative.”
Starting his own record label Bloody Chamber Music and joining Bandstocks.com – a website that allows everyday people to buy stocks in musicians – has really opened some long-awaited creative pathways. “The thing is, if I make a creative decision, I don’t have to answer to anybody. I can just do what I want to do. That’s what I’ve been about, since I was like, 12 years old. Like when I had to do homework…Why do I have to do homework? I want to be free and I want to do what I want to do.
“That’s what makes me the best at what I do,” he continues with confidence. “They want somebody in this world of people who conform to do something different. That’s why people are listening to my music.”
As to whether Bloody Chamber is looking to sign new artists soon, Patrick is very enthusiastic. “Yes, I’m looking out for the next Madonna. The next Joni Mitchell, the next Boy George. Anyone who is a liberated human being; anyone who makes fantastic music.”
Talking about being liberated, we move on to the video clip for Vulture, the single from the new album, The Bachelor. It features Patrick in some pretty interesting bondage positions and costumes. It’s a far cry from The Magic Position, which Patrick admits is behind him now; musically at least.
“I’m proud that I made it and that it had such an impact on the world, that it found an audience in quite mainstream culture, but it’s my job to move on. What I do is just about closing one chapter, closing a book and starting a new one. I’m all about progression, and the only way to progress is to be futuristic.
“With Vulture,” he explains, “the whole point was that this is a song about being in a self-destructive place, like being self-destructive, sexually. Male and female people, heterosexual or homosexual, we all put ourselves in places of self-destruction in our lives, even if you’re like a purist or a Catholic. Maybe they think they’re enjoying themselves but they’re just not really enjoying it. I wanted to put myself in the place of someone who is sexually vulnerable.”
Realising the implications of what he’s just said, Patrick takes a moment to defend his character, despite me not saying a word. “I’m not an awkward person,” he says, “but it was like acting: portraying a sense of awkwardness and not really knowing much about myself sexually, so I was kind of just exploring that. We’re used to sexual images, like, pornography; people being very, ‘I’m so sexy, look at me, I’m so sexual, blah blah blah’. I wanted to convey someone who’s quite human, who didn’t really know much about themselves. That’s really who I was while I was going through all these emotions and I ended up writing the song Vulture.”
The Bachelor and assumedly the forthcoming sequel, The Conqueror, embody a new aesthetic for Patrick, including a nice new blonde tint. He talks a bit about the new style of the shows he’s playing.
“I’m trying for a lot more of a…No, I hate the word so I’m not going to say it…OK, theatrical look. I guess I’m just expressing myself more as a dancer. It’s more choreographed; a more personal performance. I’m not so scared now of being controversial on stage. I’m not scared of shaking opinions up in the audience. I just want to inspire a lot of happiness, and for people to be free. I’m not trying any more to numb my attitude on stage. It’ll be ten times more interesting this time.”
By this stage Patrick is just exploding with confidence, and I can’t help but ask where he thinks it’s all coming from. “I think it’s like my independence from the world of major labels. I don’t have that pressure to be more family friendly. That’s quoted: ‘Be more family friendly, be more conservative.’ I was shocked because the whole point of what I do as an artist is that I want to help people break free from their constraints, from society. I wasn’t put on this planet in order to pander to the mediocrity of society; I was put on this planet to change things.”
It’s getting late by this stage, and touring is hard work, so I let him go to sleep – even without his chicken. He says he has writing to do, and I ask whether he’s working on the new album. “I’m always writing, of course. I mean, I went to a museum today,” he says, whimsically. “And I went to the castle of Norwich, and I found a wishing well, and I just sat there for five or ten minutes, and I just wrote even on my BlackBerry because I just, uh, I didn’t bring my moleskin.
“I’m always writing, ‘cause that’s the only way I can deal with life. If I can’t write then I can’t live. If I can’t write, then I can’t feel anything. It’s my way of living.”
The Bachelor is out now through Speak N Spell Records.
Watch Patrick’s new single, Vulture, here: